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As a fitness freak, I like to evaluate my gym bags, bottoms, and bodysuits with the same scrutiny as glorious spinning classes and mediocre megaformer instructors. These tried-and-true goodies are ones you can feel strong about investing in while getting strong enough to not fear you’ll throw a kettlebell through the studio window.
If you’re wondering which one item you can grab to set your workout wardrobe on fire, take a turn with these hand-picked favorites, all without lifting a finger or five-pound dumbbell. Just because you don’t want to get jacked doesn’t mean your closet can’t!:
Think of glorified leotard as barre class’s answer to performance onesies. The back design is subdued enough to not look like you’re trying to hard and the neckline is cut so high it steers clear of American Apparel territory. Even better, because of its kaleidoscopic pattern, it’s not on either side of the "camper whose boobs haven’t come in yet" or "former ballerina overdressed for Physique57" spectrum.
I rolled braless in it, which was no problem due to the cross-straps, and because I am woman enough to admit it: this leotard made me felt so cool in barre class for the very first time. I can’t do tricep dips without taking a water break and my posture spirit animal is a seahorse but I proudly stood in the front of class, mini-squatting like a badass. Turns out Amy Purdy, the woman who designed it, is one too. She’s a snowboarding medalist, world-renowned athlete, model, fitness pro, and oh yeah, a double amputee. Consider all that shared badassery a complimentary gift-with-purchase.
(Element Eden for Amy Purdy Bionic Bodysuit, $69.95 at ElementEden.com)
I don’t love magic, since it’s basically paying for public humiliation, but I’m almost convinced David Blaine has to be the designer behind this life-changing satchel. I don’t know what spells Sweaty Betty cast to make this gym bag so overwhelmingly perfect, but there has never been a better workout tote, and mark my words, will never be one.
It looks small but is massive — the way an exercise bag should be! — and somehow holds the same items my massive duffel contains. I’m a doomsday prepper when it comes to having my shower essentials on-hand (#notoiletriesleftbehind) and I was able to stuff sneakers, bulky shower shoes, all my shower hair goops, a makeup bag, brushes, and even a change of clothing inside this. It could not, however, contain my screams of "WHAT?!" and "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" as I whipped around in the mirror for days, unable to understand where everything was hidden inside this sleek lil’ summer backpack.
It feels super luxe, like one of those things only ladies who summer in the Hamptons can afford, and is ideal for the kind of woman who bounces from meetings to class and doesn’t come home for hours on end. With an interior water bottle sleeve and outer zippers perfectly sized to hold wallets, keys and even the biggest of iPhones, one of these should basically just come free with your Classpass membership.
Most products tout that you can roll "from barre to the bar!" in them, but unlike weird patterned leggings, this one actually can — unless you use the handy bottom straps (!) to secure your yoga mat, at which point, the fitness-fashion jig is up. With this much to praise, it’s no surprise that at time of publication it’s currently sold out online. Our suggestion? Stalk the site or call the nearest location and have this cobalt blue bad boy shipped to your homestead, and strap your life onto your back with style for once. [Editor's Note: It's back! It's here! It's cool!]
(Sweaty Betty All-Sport Backpack, $109 at Sweaty Betty stores worldwide)
This is a full-stop PSA for dance cardio enthusiasts: screw your sneakers, and buy these instead.
I first discovered them by eavesdropping on a Body By Simone classmate’s conversation; I never noticed that most woman in attendance, including the instructors, were sporting Newtons. Legend has it that Simone herself tried on every shoe at the running store below her studio and settled on these as the best. Intended for sprinters, their midsole panel gives extra cushioning and absorption for all those toe-weighted movements during extra-long dance sequences, leading to less of that awful straining in the calves and cramps in your feet. (Seriously!)
The best way to explain the difference between these and your regular Nikes is that Newtons deliver what those Reebok Pump commercials always promised: bouncing is simultaneously easier and more powerful, and feels like each jumping jack and grapevine comes with a bit of a boost.
Try your best to source them at a local running store — Newton offers various models, so getting fitted is important — and ask for a price adjustment if they sell you a Gravity IV, as the new model debuted a few weeks back. They take a little getting used to, and in my case required an additional foot insert, but I can’t even imagine doing AKT In Motion’s steps or 305 Fitness’ high-knees without ‘em.
(Newton Gravity Running Shoes; prices range by model type; Gravity V costs $175)
I’ve been in and out of airplanes and taxis for the past six weeks, and I truly don’t understand how fitness-inclined people do it. Not only do workout clothes double the amount of items you have to cram into a carry-on, but the majority are way too tight to even consider wearing on board without feeling like a human finger trap.
Still, every flight, there is someone with the perfect plane outfit: a mix of luxury and laid-back, as ready for hot yoga as they are a hot date. I have no clue how those women pull it off, but I’m positive these KORAL pants are the solution to all of your (okay, my) travel exercise woes. They’re cool enough to look like you put effort in at 6am, comfortable enough to let you doze off en route to Denver, and fitness-focused enough to hold their own at that out-of-town boxing class you hope you wake up for.
Are they pricey for exercise bottoms? Haha, oh my gosh, totally. But when you think of how often you can wear them — you’ll even look dope when you pop them over leggings in a snowstorm — it justifies the cost. And, well, if you need an on-brand background for your instagram of an acai bowl, they’ll do that too.
(Koral Loft Sweatpants, $175 at KORAL)